Local schools will begin a new year in a couple of weeks. As children start preparing for class, students and parents should take precautions when loading and wearing backpacks.
Kelly Hooks is an Occupational Therapist at Cookeville Regional Outpatient. She said children risk having severe back pain and scoliosis when carrying heavy backpacks.
“Children should be wearing their backpacks about 10 percent of their body weight,” Hooks said. “So if a child is 50 pounds, the backpack should not be any heavier than five pounds.”
A loose fitting backpack and misusing the straps may cause discomfort as well, Hooks said.
“If your child is complaining of back pain or when they are wearing their backpack it seems a little awkward, say their shoulder is hiked up more than the other. Those are warning signs of backpack pain,” Hooks said. “Tingling and numbness of the arms and legs. Check for red marks where the straps are over the shoulders. That is an indicator that the backpack is too heavy or it’s not being worn correctly.”
Hooks said students should utilize lockers, carry some books in arms and use pockets to eliminate overloading the backpacks. Some schools allow rolling backpacks as an option also.
Hooks said parents and students should also take extra care when loading a backpack.
“Well, when you are loading a backpack you want to make sure that the heaviest items are closer to their back and the lighter items on the outside, and distributing your pens and pencils to the outside,” Hooks said. “And check your backpack throughout the school year for extra items, because then you can remove them. I remember checking my backpack and I’m like ‘I haven’t used this book in two months.'”
Hooks said carrying unnecessary items can add to the weight load.
“Say if your heaviest book is on the outside, it is going to be pulling you back. So you want to have it closer to your back,” Hooks said “That way your back, your body, your core is holding it up and not your back arching. It can cause your back to arch if it is on the outside.”
Cookeville Regional welcomes people to attend their Backpack Awareness Seminar this evening beginning at 5 p.m. To register for the seminar, contact the Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.